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Creating connections and more sales: Valuable add ons for emerging artists


Show appreciation to buyers with small extras. (Photo: Courtney Hedger, Unsplash)


Artists need more than paint and canvas to make an exceptional impression when they hand over their art to a buyer.

A business card won’t do it, and bubble wrap or a protective sleeve is just an appetizer for really showing you care for your art and your art collectors.  That said, really beautiful wrapping of your art is a smart strategy for standing out.

Your goal is to show appreciation to buyers who support you – and to show how much you want them to value your work.  Start with one or two of  these  additions to your artists marketing tool kit:

Certificate of authenticity –     Give this to the person buying the piece as proof that it is a valuable work and created by you. This certificate should include specifics about the piece, including dimensions and the size of the edition if it is a limited edition, according to Saatchi Art. Create a certificate that reflects you as an artist, and be sure to print it on high quality paper, not just basic copy paper. 

Caring for the work handout –  Keep your artwork looking fresh and clean by giving buyers instructions for handling routine cleaning and maintenance. Check out these  variety of instructions as a starting point, then personalize them to your art and your buyers.  Include instructions  on displaying your work – whether to avoid sunlight and how to anchor it and more.  After you compile your instructions, ask three friends who buy art to read and edit them for clarity and completeness.  Then design the handout so it’s attractive and include a way to connect – email, text messages or something else – for buyers’ questions or needs.

Lagniappe. Create something small that will you give as a bonus gift to collectors as they buy.. It’s a little extra, a surprise that you give in appreciation.  Come up with a few ideas: a sketch, a bookmark created out of old work, a few cards with your most popular images on them,  or a calendar featuring your images and those of a couple of friends. You also could give high quality chocolate bar, sourced locally, or something that relates to your work and your themes.  Mint uses greeting cards and sometimes, our limited edition prints such as this Enchanted Apple, created in our Summer Jobs program by Mint Artists Natasha Guest.

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Smart advice on writing an artists statement


Judy Sledge at the Palmer Park Art Fair (Photo © Mark L. Brown)


Artists who want to submit work to galleries or competitions may need an artists statement – and writing one may seem as daunting as landing an apprenticeship with a top Fortune 500 company.
Yet it could be easy – and valuable. An artists statement, especially for an emerging artist, ought to be short and direct, using simple language. It tells readers about your body of work; it describes your work, artist Judy Sledge said at an Integrity Shows – Mint Artists Guild workshop in Detroit.

“Introduce your personality,” said Sledge, an artist, and owner of ArtRages gallery in Detroit. “Introduce yourself.

Here’s some other good advice on writing an artist statement:

  •  Share “why you do what you do” in your work, Sledge said.
  • Write in first person and tell people why you are original.
  • Briefly tell how you make your art and what it represents.
  • Keep the statement short, often just two or three paragraphs is plenty.
  • Grab the curator or buyer’s attention in the first few words, suggests The Art League, providing eight examples of “artists statements we love.” 
  • Answer five basic questions in your statement, including what inspires or motivates you.

Writing one may clarify “your own ideas about your work” and may be required when applying for a grant or other funding, GYST said in a blog post on creating artists statements. 

Before you send it to a gallery, ask your mentor or art teacher to review it. Or get feedback from friends, especially anyone who works with words.

© Vickie Elmer, 2019

(Mark L. Brown’s photo of Judy Sledge was used with permission.)

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Great questions for creative verbal self-defense

Leadership coach Laura Khalil (photo from Khalil’s website)


Artists may never have the most admired or respected profession; that goes to doctors, lawyers and engineers, according to the Varkey Foundation.

Yet emerging artists do not need to be berated or disrespected, at an art event or anywhere.  Mint Artists have experienced this, just a couple of times, in what obviously was an illegal and discriminatory hazing based on race or religion.

So they must learn the art of verbal self-defense.
Recently, we heard leadership coach Laura Khalil share her approach to fending off dismissive statements or comments that belittle, sexualize or undermine us.
She has two immigrant parents; “I’m the whitest Arab you’ll ever meet,” Khalil told InterMitten conference attendees. So she may have experienced commentary that minimized her talent or marginalized her.
Her verbal self defense technique is simple, and requires the artist or young person to remain outwardly calm and collected. “When you are stunned by a statement…. Ask a question in response,” Khalil said. Questions such as these:

  • “Did you really just say that?”
  • “Would you speak to your daughter that way?”
  • “Do you know how that makes you sound?”
  • “Why are you so emotional?” (Or judgmental or whatever it is the person has just accused you of being.)

Her approach is simple, direct and worthwhile – and aimed at anyone. Here’s some questions developed by Mint that are specific to emerging artists’ denigrating comments:

  • “Where did you earn your Ph.D. in visual arts?” Say it with a smile.
  • “If you’re going to give me a lecture, could you wait until I enroll in your class?”
  • “When are you moving along to quash someone else’s dreams?”
  • “When you dismiss my work, how do you think that reflects on your attitude and outlook?”

Address the comment head on, and attempt to de-escalate and disarm the person who is saying unkind things, Khalil said.

And count on Mint and the artists around you to build up your courage and confidence and appreciate the beauty of your work.

© Vickie Elmer 2019